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Pussy Riot: “Although what they did may be blameworthy, it is not criminally punishable”

Source: HRO.org (info), 26/06/12

· Freedom of conscience  · Artistic freedom  · Persecution of activists  · Public protests

The appendix below contains the conclusion by Yuri Kostanov, an expert of the Independent Council for Legal Expertise (ICLE), doctor of laws and State Law Adviser Grade 2, concerning the case of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova who is being prosecuted as a defendant under Article 213, Section 2, of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

The expert of ICLE has answered the following questions:

1. Does the ruling of 28 May 2012 by Lieutenant Colonel A.V. Ranchenkov, an investigator at the Moscow branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Lieutenant-Colonel of Justice, on the prosecution of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova as a defendant in accordance with Article 213, Section 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, match the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code, especially in relation to the justification of the actions of the investigation, and the rules for compiling the procedural documents?

2. What discrepancies are there, if any, and does their existence imply a substantial breach of the Criminal Procedure Code?

3. Is the reasoning put forward in the ruling in breach of constitutional provisions, or of Russia’s international legal obligations?

4. Does the reasoning put forward in the ruling reveal the personal ideological standpoint of the investigator, which goes beyond the requirements laid down for secular and non-ideological government bodies?

5. Are there any other violations of law in the ruling?

6. Is the expression “deprived the citizens of public tranquillity” acceptable from a legal point of view?

7. Can the act described as “opposing themselves to the Orthodox world” be a criminal act?

8. Is it a legally significant contradiction when the act performed is described as directed against “Christianity”, however when formulating the charges brought against the defendant the word “Orthodoxy” is used, whereas in the Russian law there is a principal difference between these two definitions? In particular, in the preamble to the law of the Russian Federation “On Freedom of Conscience” “Orthodoxy” is named as a traditional religion of Russia, and therefore the above two terms cannot be regarded as synonyms.

See the Appendix.
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